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Ability to Read

Indicator Phrasing

% of the target population that can read the written language used to communicate with them
See indicator in other languages

Indicator Phrasing

English: % of the target population that can read the written language used to communicate with them

French: % de la population cible qui peut lire la langue écrite utilisée pour communiquer avec elle

Portuguese: % da população-alvo que consegue ler a língua escrita utilizada para comunicar consigo

Czech: % cílové populace, která umí číst v jazyce, v němž se s nimi komunikuje

What is its purpose?

The process indicator measures the proportion of the target group members capable of reading in the language that is used to communicate with them (e.g. in leaflets, announcements, instructions, etc.). Such data can help aid agencies in improving people's access to information.

How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data

Calculate the indicator's value by using the following methodology:


1) Select an example of a written text intended for the target group members, such as a leaflet, poster, printed instructions or a short announcement. Ensure that the text is approximately 2-4 sentences long and is free of any unnecessary jargon and technical terms. If several different languages are commonly used for written communication, select an example for each language.



2) Include in any quantitative survey that is conducted among a representative sample of the target group members (both female and male), a section testing their ability to read the written text. The recommended survey questions include:

Q1: Are you able to read text in [specify the tested language]?

A1: yes / no / with difficulties


(ask the following question only if the previous answer is YES or WITH DIFFICULTIES)


Q2: Show the selected text in a given language and ask: Can you please read this text aloud? 

A2: _

1) the respondent is able to read the text

2) the respondent IS NOT able to read the text



3) If there are several languages commonly used for written communication with the target population, repeat steps 1 and 2 for the remaining languages.



4) To calculate the indicator’s value, divide the number of people who were able to read the written text by the total number of respondents. Multiply the result by 100 to convert it to a percentage.

Disaggregate by

Disaggregate the data by gender, age groups, ethnicity and other vulnerability factors. If you test more languages, report separately on the percentage of the target population who is able to read text in a given language.

Important Comments

1) If the Education Cluster, UNICEF, or Ministry of Education has a standardized methodology for testing basic reading skills in the given language, consider using it.

This guidance was prepared by People in Need and Translators without Borders ©

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